Small biz social media advice during the coronavirus pandemic #SettUpForSocial
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
I've written this short and sweet piece to provide some top-line advice on social media for small business owners and sole traders who are currently juggling even more than normal because of the impact of the coronavirus.
Perhaps you’ve had your supplies disrupted, have been unable to run operations because of physical distancing restrictions or have had to switch your services to virtual at the drop of a hat.
Whatever impact coronavirus is having on your business, it’s never been more important for you to use social media smartly to keep your customers, prospective customers and other stakeholders you may have up to date with the latest information.
Above all, stay safe and good luck for the coming weeks and months. As a sole trader myself, I know how unsettling things are right now and I hope this helps you out, if only a little.
Decide what you’re going to talk about
Work out what is going to be most useful for your customers.
This is not a time to focus on pushing a sales message, it’s a time to communicate really clearly to help people. For example, if you’re a mortgage broker focus your efforts on explaining things like:
The impact of the lockdown on processes for switching or applying for mortgages
The impact of lenders’ actions on availability of mortgages
The impact of Government policy on borrowers
This is an incredibly fluid time, with lots of uncertainty for your customers. Your expertise is vital for helping to inform people and it will serve you well to focus your efforts on providing information, not trying to sell.
Identify what you know that will help others and let that shape your activity.
Decide where you’re going to spend your time
You’re juggling a lot right now, so you allow yourself to be smart in terms of where you invest your time on social. Split your efforts so you use some platforms proactively and others - perhaps those on which you typically see less interaction - reactively.
If you’re having to shut down completely, post it to the appropriate channel and, where you have the opportunity to, pin that post to the top of your profile so it’s the first thing visitors see.
If you’re adapting your services fluidly as the situation evolves - and who isn’t having to do that at the moment - repeat this approach with each new major change that will affect your customers.
Have notifications turned on for all channels, so you can respond to any inbound questions or comments on your posts. Even if you’re not posting proactively, you should still reply to people when they get in touch.
Then, when you have useful, relevant information or insight to share with your customers, focus on posting on the channels that matter most to them. For example, I spend the majority of my time on LinkedIn, with some proactive content on Facebook and Instagram. I do very little with Twitter.
Your range of channels will be unique to you, but make sure you are smart with your time, not creating a rod for your own back by trying to be everywhere.
Set the right tone
People are hyper aware of tone right now: tone of voice but also the tone of actions. Sports Direct decided to position itself as an essential service. The owner of Wetherspoons first encouraged people to overlook social distancing concerns, then it started to become clear there might be issues around staff being paid during the lockdown. Now they are being chastised on social media and in the press.
These weren’t social media decisions, but they have become a topic of discussion on social media because they come across as attempts to profiteer in times of misfortune.
Think about the tone you want to set for your business in terms of your actions and your social media activity and sanity check the decisions you make about content through that lens. And make sure you retain that tone when it comes to responding to what could be challenging questions and comments.
Keep an eye on the prevailing mood
Things are changing all the time, as we’ve already established. That means as your business decisions are evolving you need to make sure your content reflects this.
Align your content with your actions - you are now, even more than usual on social, what you do, not what you say. Keep this in mind and you can’t go too far wrong.